The world is a funny old place. One hundred years ago a war was fought primarily in Western Europe to stop an imperial upstart (Germany) from becoming too powerful. Some 70-odd years ago, yet another war was fought (in almost exactly the same places) to stop the resurgent Germany from being the sole power in the European hemisphere.
Much blood was shed to stop German hegemony in Europe and many leaders were secretly happy that the once powerful Germany had been split and made a useless rump. But things and times change.
Germany, as things now stand, IS the dominant force in Western Europe. This fact was hammered home when yet again, right after an election, the French president immediately went to Berlin to pay homage to the German chancellor. During this trip they discussed strengthening of the economic union, something the Bundesbank has long championed as it would mean cementing Frankfurt as the economic heart of Europe. The fact that Germany is the sole power in Western Europe was also made evident when the UK, the only other nation comparable to Germany, chose to go it alone and abandon the European Union, thus leaving the continent’s western hemisphere to the mercies of Germany.
Why should one be worried or even take interest in the fact that Germany is turning the European Union into its own personal play thing, where it alone is the dominant player and everyone else must tow the line, and is this even happening? Well, one can take Greece and its ongoing economic crisis for a bit of evidence of this.
Now, let us ignore the fact that everyone knew that Greece was unable to repay its debts and that a haircut was needed. Let us also discount the fact that the economy was burning and Greece needed to cut more social services to service the un-serviceable debt. The Greek people were given an option by their Government — a simple yes or no to yet another unpayable bailout. They chose no, and instead of honouring that, the Troika led by Germany held the Greek banks to hostage and demanded that the Greek Government ignore the express wishes of the people as reflected in the referendum.
We are also seeing Germany, the most populous (and strongest in terms of arms manufacturing), actively pushing for the formation of a European army to take the place of NATO. The Germans have long wished for a European army as they know that realistically only two nations would dominate it (Germany and France), and in reality only one because the other EU ‘superpower’ is quickly becoming a basket case. This European army will really be answerable to and follow the dictates emerging from Berlin. In other words, this new EU army will be run along the line of the current EU status quo… wherever Germany leads the rest will follow.
However, the Germans will not be in such a strong position as it is now. The central and eastern members of this union will not and are not taking this situation laying down. Nations like Hungary and Poland are quickly becoming upset with the mutterings from Berlin and Brussels and have united because of a sense of culture disappearing.
The central and eastern nations also will not stand idly by as the EU becomes more like a session of the German Bundestag. These nations, barely off the leash that was Soviet oppression, will not be talked down to. This could lead to the break up of the EU as we know it, and in its place we would be left with two continental powers sharing a border.
The EU as is, is dead. It has little or no authority over the member states who continually ride roughshod through the ‘sanctions’. Germany is in a precarious position and it is one that it certainly entertains as serious. It is being asked to be the king maker of the EU and this could spell badly for the rest of Europe. Will Germany, with its new-found leadership role, play the part of good cop, or will it isolate the issue and badger on and on until fixed?
The world must surely be awake now, but as the years go by, Germany accrues more power and that should give everyone pause for thought. This thirst for continental dominance is hardwired in German political psyche and as time goes by the Germans will gain more while those on the periphery struggle to keep in the Germans’ good graces.
Still, the captain said “you can do it or get out” and I fear that most of us will get out rather than do the labour. I hope that I am wrong, but as things stand the world is looking a bit darker than before.